6A -- Editorial Page -- Saturday, May 12, 1973
An Independent Newspaper
In Wake of Watergate
Revamped Nixon Staff Must Have
New Spirit of Humility, Helpfulness
By PAUL MILLER
The President has a great opportunity
to back up, turn around and make a new
start in administration of the White House.
If he does so, and barring some even
more damaging Watergate disclosure, he
could find himself in better position than
ever to move ahead with his foreign and domestic programs.
He has that opportunity.
The question being asked is whether he will seize it
Much of the criticism now swirling
around the White House is not related
directly to the Watergate scandals. It
comes from people high and low who have
disapproved of White House staff arrogance and presidential remoteness but
who until Watergate withheld criticism
because of belief in the President and his programs in general.
Now they and others who kept quiet
all seem trying to talk or write at once
about their disapproval of the White
House staff "image" of the past — and
their hope of a change, for the good of
the country and the President.
There is no way for most to know
whether the President was at all aware
of the image created and the resentments
built up long before Watergate.
Some who tried to be helpful were
rebuffed or ignored. Letters intended to
be helpful went unacknowledged. Even a
cabinet officer who suggested White House public relations could be improved
by a little more civility toward Congress,
cabinet and people in general concluded
in the end that he not only didn't get
anywhere—he had probably only hurt himself with his boss.
What friends and supporters are concerned about now is that the President
recognize the need not only for the house-cleaning, which he has begun, but the
opportunity to make a new start for himself by implementing a new spirit of humility and helpfulness among his new subordinates.
Naturally, all who now have any personal contact with the President want to
encourage him, to bolster his spirit. That's understandable.
But if they do not also convey to him
that wholesale changes are expected in
White House and executive branch attitudes-—acknowledging the mistakes in the
past by those now gone and some still on
the job—they are doing him a disservice, and the country a disservice.
. . . Meet the Press
One way for the President to dramatize a new start in improving White House
*CAPTION* . . . And we'll root, root, root for the
home team." *END CAPTION*
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"As the White House players change, what must be certain is that the White
House mentality be changed as well . . . in an air of openness, cooperation and trust"
—Ron Speed, president of the Ripon Society, an organization of liberal Republicans.
relations with public and press now would
be to announce a swing back into regular
news conferences as soon as he can.
His former aides discouraged them. In
so doing, they cut him off from a contact
which can be as helpful to a public official
as to the public he serves. Sharp questions
may be hard to take, but they give a feel
of the public mind that he can get in no other way.
. . . Everybody's Oar In
It remained for an unexpected quarter
to supply some relief for the President in
the continuing series of exposures and reports.
Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., who
succeeded the late Joseph McCarthy, said
in a Senate speech that "McCarthyism at
its worst" is being practiced in some news accounts.
"When," Proxmire said, "former White House Counsel John Dean is reported throughout this country to have
privately told grand jury investigators that the President was directly involved in
a Watergate coverup, President Nixon is being tried, sentenced and executed by rumor and allegation.
"Doesn't the President have the same simple right that every other American has to be innocent until proven guilty?
"Doesn't a man who has spent more than 20 years in the pitiless glare at the
summit of national political life deserve to be believed when he directly tells the
nation that he had no knowledge of these matters, until there is proof that he lied?"
It is a fact that some columnists and commentators who have been restrained
heretofore in discussions respecting the White House seem to be writing and
speaking with little or no restraint in the circumstances prevailing now.
Yet, in the words of a Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday, "The whole
Watergate case is surely an example of why the press is important to a free society."
. . . Modest Winner
There was refreshing modesty and
candor in the comment of Cornell University history professor Michael Kammen
(a Rochester native) this week when he was told
his book had won a Pulitzer prize for history. Winning, said
Professor Kammen was "partly the luck of the draw. There were
lots of books written this year, including a number of good books in
history. It depends a lot on who (on the prize selection committee) reads your book."
The name of his book is "People in Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origin of American Civilization." It sounds
like heavy going. But after noting his comment, one new admirer is going tobuy a copy.
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